Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Fire Department Will Not Rely On "Luck" Any Longer

White Hall Task Force Releases Action Report

by Matt Kroschel

Grand Junction, CO-- Months after the White Hall fire, a task force assembled to access how the fire was handled releases their report and their findings highlight some serious concerns within the Grand Junction Fire Department.

In the 35 page report concerns over communication breakdowns, training inadequacies and a lack of resources available to cover other emergencies during the fire were addressed. During that raging inferno inside the landmark building in downtown Grand Junction, a firefighter fell through the floor of the building while fighting it. Fire Chief Ken Watkins said his department, "got lucky" and vows to make sure their responses to large commercial structure fires are handled differently in the future by changing their policy.

"We wanted to put this out in the lights and let the public know what we need to work on and what we are doing well," Watkins said.

The report highlights the dispatch communication center's lack of knowledge on fire fighting operations, as well as protocols for "Mayday" situations (when a firefighter is down). Also, the report indicates dispatchers do not typically monitor tactical channels during emergency operations.

"A lot of these are cheap fixes and are already in the process of being made," Watkins added.

There were also several positive findings in the report that Chief Watkins said shows just how dedicated and professional his department is at the job they do everyday.

"I am very proud of my team, we just have a couple of things we need to focus on fixing so we can provide the best service to the community and keep our firefighters safer."

The report indicates a lack of resources and difficulties responding to incidents in the Grand valley due to geographical issues.

Chief Watkins told NewsChannel Five every finding and recommendation is being looked at and being seriously addressed.

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